The second-to-last football edition of “WRNL Interrogates” is here. This week, managing editor of Viva The Matadors, Kyle Jacobson, dishes on the Red Raiders and provides us the most unique answer yet to the traditional WRNL bonus question at the end...
If you’re interested, also check out the other half of our Q&A over on VTM. In it, I answer what the annual Tech-ISU game should be referred to, a la “Farmageddon” and “CyHawk rivalry.”
Onto the questions...
Kevin: Texas Tech's offense is insanely good, averaging 473.1 passing yards per game -- best in the nation. Obviously a lot of this has to do with the play of Patrick Mahomes II. Do you see Mahomes coming back to Lubbock for his senior season, or will he use this season of putting up video game numbers to vault into the NFL Draft? Also, how much better does Mahomes have to get until he reaches Seneca Wallace levels of awesome? (I'm kidding...maybe.)
Kyle: Here in Lubbock, as the season wore on and Mahomes suffered an injury that caused his performance to take a noticeable dip, we all figured he was a near lock to come back for his senior year. We thought he could boost his draft stock and, with his physical tools, be considered a first rounder a franchise could build around.
But then Mel Kiper listed him as the second best QB in this year’s NFL draft class (assuming he forgoes his senior year), which, if NFL executives agree, would probably put him in the first round already. Why come back and risk injury or your stock taking a hit?
So if I had to guess right now, I’d say he’s gone, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if he returned.
Kevin: While the Red Raider offense has been amazing, the defense has been equally atrocious, giving up 42.1 points per game on average to opponents. For Cyclone fans who haven't been able to watch Tech this year, what's the issue(s) for TTU on defense?
Kyle: What’s the word count on this article? (Hilarious dad joke, for more you can follow me on Twitter) But seriously I think it boils down to lack of experience and depth. Since the end of last season, we lost three of four starting defensive lineman to graduation/the NFL, two starting linebackers to injury or team dismissal, both starting corners transferred, and one of our starting safeties graduated. We started this season with converted wide receivers starting at one corner spot and at defensive end (yes, converted wide receiver at defensive end).
A whole lot of our two deep is made up of freshmen, sophomores, or transfers who have only been here one year. It will take a couple recruiting cycles to get the talent, depth, and experience needed to be more competitive.
Kevin: Besides Mahomes, which players have been the standouts this season on both sides of the ball?
Kyle: Jonathan Giles and to a lesser extent Keke Coutee, both sophomore inside receivers, have showed a lot of promise. Giles was top five in the FBS in many receiving statistical categories after the first seven games or so before cooling off a little bit lately. Coutee has shown he has some serious big play ability. Both will be a lot of fun to watch (and a nightmare for opponents to cover) for the next two seasons.
On defense, true freshman cornerback Douglas Coleman has been stellar. He picked off a pass in the end zone against TCU (in a game that went to double overtime, a crucial play) and returned a fumble 100 yards for a TD against Texas.
Kevin: What scares you the most about Iowa State? On the other hand, what about the Cyclones gives you the most confidence?
Kyle: Texas Tech has only won one game in the month of November north of the state of Oklahoma since Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese in 1941. That one win was in 2014 against Iowa State. Bottom line: we don’t play well on the road late in the season in the cold, and Jack Trice stadium would worry me if Texas Tech were 11-0 and Iowa State were 0-11. It’s a tough place to play, and the Cyclones are always a tough out.
What gives me the most confidence, I guess, is that Texas Tech really has something to play for with bowl eligibility still a remote possibility. Unfortunately for Iowa State, that’s out the window, so maybe we’ll see a Red Raiders squad that – I apologize for this horrible cliché – just wants it more.
Kevin: Prediction time. Will the Red Raiders overwhelm ISU with their powerful offense, or will this turn into a nail-biter, or even an Iowa State victory?
Kyle: Texas Tech has won one close game this season (TCU) and lost four of their six games by a touchdown or less. We find ways to lose rather than win. If Iowa State can keep the Tech offense in check and keep it close on the scoreboard through three quarters, I have no doubts that Tech will blow it. But I’ll cautiously predict our offense shows up and can hold a 10 or 14-point lead down the stretch, and hang on for the win.
Kevin: BONUS QUESTION - It's time we officially welcome you to WRNL. FMK: Anna Kendrick, Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Watson. DON'T LET ME DOWN.
F: I would friend-zone Jennifer Lawrence. She’s funny and talented, but not my type.
M: I would miss, intentionally, every Emma Watson film possible.
K: I would knock Anna Kendrick down a peg. She annoys me and seems to be famous for no reason.
Let’s see you debate THAT answer, commenters. I would just like to point out that no Emmas were killed in the making of Kyle’s answer, so in my eyes, he’s definitely #TeamDontKillEmma. Smart man.
Good luck to the Red Raiders later today!